Florida Crime Fiction And The New Face Of America

This program is rebroadcast from June 13, 2013.

The New Yorker’s Adam Gopnik joins us on the seedy, wacky face of Sunshine State crime fiction.

The Miami skyline as seen from Miami Beach. (Stefano Giudici/Flickr)

The Miami skyline as seen from Miami Beach. (Stefano Giudici/Flickr)

Once upon a time, Los Angeles was the American capital of crime fiction, of our dark, moody, noir tales of guns, detectives, blackmail, sleaze, fighting corruption. Think Raymond Chandler. “The Big Sleep.” “Chinatown.” America wrestling with the dark side of Tinsel Town. Now, says my guest, Adam Gopnik of the New Yorker, our crime fiction capital is Florida — the Sunshine State and the state of the fiction, the crime, is something else. Wacky, seedy, random. And corruption is just presumed. This hour On Point: Adam Gopnik on America now and the rise of Florida crime fiction.

— Tom Ashbrook


Adam Gopnik, writer for the New Yorker who recently wrote about Florida crime fiction in “In The Back Cabana.” (@adamgopnik)

Oline Cogdill, mystery fiction reviewer who blogs at Mystery Scene. (@OlineCogdill)

From Tom’s Reading List

The New Yorker: In The Back Cabana: The Rise And Rise Of Florida Crime Fiction — “But another line of crime fiction, at the other peninsular end of the country, may have supplanted the L.A.-noir tradition as a paperback mirror of American manners — the fiction of Florida glare. In this genre, as Dave Barry, a late-arriving practitioner, puts it, a bunch of ‘South Florida wackos’ — all heavily armed, all loquacious, all barely aware of one another’s existence — blunder through petty crime, discover themselves engaged in actual murder, and then move in unconscious unison toward the black comedy of a violent climax. This line begins in John D. MacDonald’s color-coded’ books (‘The Dreadful Lemon Sky,’ ‘Free Fall in Crimson’), of the sixties and seventies; moves through Elmore Leonard’s talky, episodic Florida novels of the eighties; engages Barry as a comic outlier; and eventually leads to Carl Hiaasen, the Miami newspaperman who has, for the past few decades, written a new crime novel practically every two years.”

Mystery Scene: Florida Bound? Read A Mystery — “Florida has a rich history of mystery fiction and here are some authors that will show you the intricacies of the Sunshine State…Here are some novels to get you going, whether you listen to them as an audio book or read them.”

Reuters: America Noir: The Biggest ‘Gate’ Of All — “Metaphors function much like art, and you might consider Watergate not as a scandal but as a gigantic movie. Not just any movie blockbuster, either, but as America’s epic noir. Film noir was a genre that began in the late 1940s, when America was forced to confront the darkness within itself after World War II. ‘Film noir’ translates into ‘black film,’ and the noir movies of the time were literally and figuratively dark. They involved corruption, deceit, amorality and the potential rot of the American soul — capturing the anxiety of the Cold War era.”

Tweets From During The Show


Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
Nov 27, 2015
Josh Baldonado, an administrative assistant at Brown & Brown Insurance, works at a treadmill desk in the firms offices in Carmel, Ind., Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013. (AP)

The end of sitting at work. A new call to get up off our chairs. To stand and move! We’ll look at how that works.

Nov 27, 2015
The punk rock band Sleater-Kinney (from L: Janet Weiss, Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker) (Courtesy the Band)

Feminist punk-rockers, the band Sleater-Kinney, is with us. Reunited. Hotter than ever.

Nov 26, 2015
Jewel performs in the On Point Studio on Tuesday, September 22, 2015. (Liz Gillis / WBUR)

Singer-songwriter Jewel asked “who will save your soul”? Now she’s talking about saving her own. We’ll talk to Jewel.

Nov 26, 2015
This photo taken July 31, 2012 shows a "tiny" house April Anson built in Portland, Ore. For the past couple of months, 33-year-old Anson and her friends have been planning, measuring, sawing and hammering their way toward completion of what might look like a child’s playhouse. (AP)

Tiny houses, micro-apartments. They’re hot. Americans are downsizing.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Fresh Ideas For Your Thanksgiving: Recipes
Wednesday, Nov 25, 2015

Did our Thanksgiving 2016 episode make you hungry? Good news — we’ve got recipes right here.

More »
Karl Rove Still Won’t Get Involved In The 2016 G.O.P. Primary
Tuesday, Nov 24, 2015

Karl Rove may say he’s not endorsing or getting involved in the 2016 G.O.P. presidential primary, but that won’t stop from offering advice on how to beat Republican front runner Donald Trump.

More »
Roger Cohen And Barry Posen On ISIS
Monday, Nov 23, 2015

A brief, but illustrative exchange between Barry Posen and Roger Cohen during our conversation on ISIS today.

More »